The ‘Double Transition’ for First-Year Students: Understanding the Impact of Covid-19 on South Africa’s First-Year University Students


  • Annsilla Nyar



Covid‑19, first-year students, online teaching and learning, student transition, transition support systems


While all students are affected by the advent of the Covid‑19 pandemic, the first-year student population remains a special category of vulnerability for higher education. This is on account of the way the Covid‑19 pandemic has disrupted their transition into university and complicated the nature of their entry into and through the formal academic cycle. This article uses the notion of a ‘double transition’ as a framework for positioning and locating the first-year student transition within the context of the prevailing Covid‑19 pandemic. ‘Double transition’ refers to an additional transition coupled with that of the first-year transition, with regard to the extraordinary situation of students navigating their entry into the unfamiliar terrain of academia while simultaneously navigating the Covid‑19 pandemic. The article provides a circumscribed summary of the effects of Covid‑19 on university students and looks to describe and explain the nature and shape of first-year transitions in relation to the transition necessitated by the Covid‑19 pandemic. It concludes with four key strategies for supporting first-year students as the pandemic continues.